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Coronary Angioplasty

Your doctor will talk to you about your heart problem and explain how angioplasty can help. Angioplasty relieves symptoms of coronary artery disease by improving blood flow to your heart.

Artery, plaque, and balloon
The balloon compresses the plaque against the artery wall.

Artery and increased blood flow
The blood flow to the heart muscle increases.

During the Procedure

  • A guide wire is inserted through the guiding catheter (a thin, flexible tube) and moved to the narrow spot in your artery. Your doctor tracks its movement on an angiogram, a special kind of x-ray.

  • A balloon-tipped catheter is inserted through the guiding catheter and threaded over the guide wire. It is positioned at the narrow part of the artery.

  • The balloon is inflated and deflated several times to compress the plaque against the artery wall. You may feel angina (chest pain) when the balloon is inflated. Tell your doctor if you do.

  • The balloon is deflated and the catheters and guide wire are removed. The artery is now open, and blood flow to the heart muscle increases.

After the Procedure

  • Your doctor or nurse will tell you how long to lie down and keep the insertion site still.

  • If the insertion site was in your groin, you may need to lie down with your leg still for several hours.

  • A nurse will check the insertion site and your blood pressure. Before going home, you may have a chest x-ray and other tests.

  • You usually remain in the hospital for several hours or overnight.

Call Your Doctor If:

  • You have angina (chest pain).

  • The insertion site has pain, swelling, redness, bleeding, or drainage.

  • You have severe pain, coldness, or a bluish color in the leg or arm that held the catheter.

  • You experience blood in your urine, black or tarry stools, or any other kind of bleeding.

  • You have a fever over 101.0°F.

Online Medical Reviewer: Garg, Manish, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Jey, Arthur Ricardo, MD
Last Review Date: 3/26/2012
© 2000-2014 Krames StayWell, 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.